HS2 has invited companies to tender for the first major civils work north of the West Midlands, with £50m early works contracts to be awarded on Phase 2a of the project.
A detailed programme of ground investigation along the 2a route has already begun, and HS2 have also confirmed that the latest package, worth £25-£30m, has been awarded to Balfour Beatty. Data from this, and previous geological investigations, will inform ongoing design development.
Linking Birmingham to Crewe, Phase 2a will carry trains bound for destinations such as Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and the north west, speeding up overall journey times and freeing up space on the existing network.
Known as ‘Early Civils Work – Package 2’ (ECW2), the new £50m programme includes a range of enabling works designed to reduce disruption during the main build stage of the project. This includes major highways works and associated utility diversions as well as a range of environmental and other surveys along the 58km route.
The works will be the first major preparatory activity to be carried out for Britain’s new high speed rail line beyond its first phase, which is now being built between the West Midlands and London.
Alongside speeding up journey times, the new infrastructure will also free up capacity on the existing network for more local trains and freight by rail. This could see services rise from hourly to half-hourly or better between Crewe and Stoke-on-Trent to Nuneaton, Tamworth, Lichfield and Rugeley, as well as more services from Crewe and Runcorn into Liverpool, as well as via Crewe between North Wales, Chester and London.
David Poole, HS2 Ltd’s procurement and commercial director, said: “The winner of this contract will play a vital role in delivering the next stage of Britain’s new high speed railway, taking the route north from Birmingham to Crewe and by using the government’s existing framework we hope to streamline the procurement process.
“HS2’s Phase 2a represents a massive opportunity for businesses in the north of England and across the UK in the short term, and in the longer term it will speed up journeys for trains bound for places like Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and the North West, and release much-needed extra capacity on the existing mainline.”
The ECW2 package will awarded via the government’s existing Construction Works and Associated Services framework, streamlining the procurement process, benefitting HS2 and potential bidders with contracts expected to be awarded in early 2021.
Draft legislation to seeking powers to build operate and maintain HS2 phase 2a are currently proceeding through Parliament. Royal Assent is anticipated during the winter.